“Saving the world, one bee at a time!” That is what a lady told me as I got out of my car. She must have noticed my license plate as it stands for “Beekeeper” I smiled and replied that it doesn’t take much! You see our lovely state of Virginia has special ‘Protect the Pollinators’ license plate. This special (revenue-sharing) plate design gives $15 of the $25 purchase to VDOT that supports the Pollinator Habitat Program. Not only is the plate bee-utiful, it gives back! I mean who wouldn’t want a fancy license plate with flowers, butterflies, and bee!!
In fact, there are many ways to ensure that our insect friends have a fighting chance to carryon their legacy. It can be as simple as “letting your dandelions grow.” A common weed to most people is extremely important to our bees. It is all about timing, early spring when a bee colony begins their journey of the pollen hunt; dandelions tend to bloom (along with many other important sources) for our black and yellow fuzzy friends. If you decide to take a more proactive approach, then feel free to plant bee/pollinator friendly plants, but something to consider is to plant a variety of plants that will bloom at different times throughout the spring and fall. Honey bees need to eat until they retreat to their hives for the winter. I found wonderful advice from my local nursery about blooming variety and timing. You can also look for wildflower seed packages for pollinators, the great thing about these is that they already have the correct combination of flowers that bloom from spring-fall!
Do you have a bird bath or even a shallow basin? Filling it with marbles and water is another simple way to help. Did you know that a single bee will drink its weight in water everyday. I once read that a large colony of 80,000 bees could drink up to 24lbs of water each day! You can even put bowls under your gutter drains to catch the rainwater and it hardly takes any effort!
One of the easiest ways to help protect our pollinators is to be aware of pesticides and herbicides. Some of them are toxic to bees, and some aren’t. Many of them will leave a toxic residue for days or weeks. It is better to introduce good bugs to provide natural protection against pests, and to weed by hand. I am currently reading about the use of ladybugs in gardens to combat aphids!
My first year of beekeeping was successful as well as a pretty hard failure. I’m sure you may be wondering why I am saying it like this, but in reality my bees did their job- just not as long as I was hoping. Unfortunately, they didn’t survive the winter, but their legacy wasn’t in vain. They helped pollinate so many plants in their lifetime and for that, I am extremely thankful. You will hear so many “failure” stories, and people who have decided to hang up their veil and walk away from beekeeping. The main thing to remember is that even if they don’t survive… that doesn’t mean total failure! It took me a little while to accept this, but as I unzipped my suit, I knew that I had to continue. For anyone who wants to get into beekeeping, find a class, join a club, and pick an awesome mentor.
Just remember that it doesn’t take much to save the world, one bee at a time!
The Farm on Quail Hollow,